How Your Pet Could Be Bringing In $10,000 Per Instagram Post
Everyone loves dogs, and to say brands are taking notice is an understatement.
Few things in life are as pure as the joy of gazing upon a good doggo. Well, OK, maybe a good doggo dressed as a hamburger. Or a doggo with an exceptionally long and floppy tongue. Or a pupper about to chow down on some In-N-Out.
The point is, pets are unbearably cute, and our collective willingness to smash that like button every time we see a sweet one on social media has caught the attention of brands in a serious way.
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Enter the burgeoning “pet influencer” industry. While OG pet stars like Marnie the Dog, Boo the Pomeranian and Lil BUB have been crushing the game for a few years now and have even gone on to score book deals, the rise of Insta-famous pets has created an incredibly lucrative industry for pet parents willing to put in the work.
And on the ground level is Loni Edwards, founder of The Dog Agency, the first talent agency to focus exclusively on pets. Edwards, a Harvard law school graduate turned fashion tech entrepreneur, founded TDA in 2015 after noticing the considerable attention her miniature French bulldog, Chloe, was picking up on social media.
“Because of my background in law, other pet influencers owners would come and ask me for advice on brand partnership, contracts they were getting,” she says.
“It seemed very obvious that there should be some central hub to pull everything together, to make it easier for both the influencers to really grow their brands and get guidance while still serving their full time jobs—and for the brands to seamlessly be able to launch a campaign with multiple top-tier influencers and not have to manage it themselves.”
Fast forward to 2017 and The Dog Agency represents over 100 of the top pet influencers in the world, and they’ve branched out beyond canines, representing bunnies, pigs, monkeys, chinchillas and hedgehogs.
According to Edwards, furry friends with a million-plus followers can bring in up to $15,000 for a single sponsored post. *surprised eyeballs emoji*
Of course, it’s not nearly as simple as getting your cute pet to pose for a picture, and as the industry continues its rapid ascent, you can’t help but wonder if this new dynamic takes away from the pet-human relationship that’s so special largely because of how simple and pure that love is.
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On the other hand, pet influencers have been a significant force in encouraging prospective pet parents to adopt rather than shop, and their influence can certainly be wielded for charitable, good causes.
Manny the Frenchie, for instance, who has a million followers on Instagram, has his Manny & Friends Foundation, which was created to help “those in need” and currently has a fund set up to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
For those pet parents who are certain their fur baby has what it takes, Edwards lays out the initial steps they need to take:
Lay the groundwork
Before you can pique a brand or agency’s interest, the pet’s social media presence already needs to be pretty robust: “We get all the back-end data of how many impressions they’re getting and how many saves their posts are getting before we even get on an introductory call," she says.
"And we check to make sure the content is good—good quality photos, good quality videos, captions have something special to them, whether they're witty, funny or heartwarming.”
Build a brand
While this whole market is emerging from a place of “Look how cute this lil floof is!” Edwards is quick to say that you’re essentially setting out to build a brand: “Just like for a brand for a product you want to buy, you want to make sure that you know what it is. Same goes for your pet. You want to know what you're getting when you go to that page.”
That means you’re constantly in “content creation” mode, too, and what was once a carefree session of fetch at the park can suddenly start to feel like work.
“Posting regularly is important. You need to make sure that you're staying in the dialogue and people are seeing your pet regularly and feel like they're getting to know your pet.”
Quality content reigns supreme.
“Beautiful photography is definitely helpful,” Edwards says, “and having a cool story is also great. For example, one of our clients, Pardon thy French, recovered from cancer.
"She's a rescue and lost one of her legs, and she sprints up and down stairs and can do anything. It's just so inspiring.”
Understand what you’re getting into
If it seems like the owners of top doggie influencers are pretty much spending all their time bouncing around to various locations to take pictures of their pets, that’s because they probably are.
“It's a lot of work, and I think people don't realize that,” Edwards says. “They go on Instagram, they see all these cute photos that people are just whipping out these witty comments and perfect photos without any work. And that's not the case.
"For every photo you see on Instagram, there are probably 20 to 50 versions of that photo that didn't make the cut. And then there's editing time, writing captions, engaging with your followers and making sure to post regularly.”
But in the end, Edwards says, it's about keeping your focus on the fur baby you love: "People have an innate positive reaction to pets. So do what you love and keep your eye open for opportunities."
Words: Deena Drewis